This blog is a way for me to share hard learned lessons about money with those who are just starting out on their own. I hope it's a way for you to avoid making the mistakes I made, and to benefit from my experiences

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Check Your Credit Report Regularly - For Free

Checking your credit report regularly is important for a number of reasons. First, you want to make sure there are no accounts or credit balances that are not yours. These could be indications of Identity Theft or just someone elses info that got swept into your report by accident. Second, when you do want to get credit for a mortgage or auto loan, the cleaner your credit report, the better your loan terms will be.

By law, everyone is entitled to check their report from each of the 3 credit bureaus, once per year. You can do this by going to This is the only site that offers truly free credit reports, without having you sign up with an expensive credit monitoring service. This site is provided by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion themselves.

They will also offer you the opportunity to look at your credit score, for a small additional fee. Be warned, the FICO score is the only credit score that matters right now. The credit bureaus have come up with their own scoring system, and may be offering you to sell you that score instead. FICO is the industry standard. That may change in the future, but for right now, unless they offer to sell you your FICO score, don't pay anything extra for a credit score.

If you find any incorrect information on your report, dispute it with the credit bureau. The report itself will have instructions on how to do that.

Lastly, I recommend checking only one report from one of the bureaus, every 4 months. You might set up a schedule to check the Experian report in January, then Equifax in May, then TransUnion in October. This way you are really checking 3 times a year for errors. If one has an error, the others might have the same error.

If you are getting ready to make a large credit purchase, you may just want to go to instead. There you can pay to get all 3 reports and FICO scores at one time, and can fix anything that needs fixing ahead of time.


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